Aussie Deegan could be key to unlocking the door to number ten
Connacht were hoping to find their level last week against Dragons; instead they slipped well below it, admittedly with a less than stellar line-up.
Connacht were hoping to find their level last week against Dragons; instead they slipped well below it, admittedly with a less than stellar line-up.
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has brushed off concerns about out-half Tyler Bleyendaal's place-kicking after an indifferent start to the season off the tee by the errant Kiwi.
Michael Conlan will bid to chalk up a fourth successive professional victory when he takes on 30-year-old Kenny Guzman in Tuscon, Arizona, in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss is convinced that utility back Jacob Stockdale has the potential to maintain his upward graph this season as one of Ireland's newest international stars bids to build...
Diarmuid Connolly begins the day with what is widely interpreted as an individual declaration of defiance, but it is how he ends it which defines both player and team as they collectively gather before their devoted Hill 16 faithful in triumph.
So much for the theory - for now at least - that when Munster's South African coaches decided to up sticks, nothing good could come from goodbye.
Quiz question: Who were the only team last season to defeat the subsequent champions of all three major European leagues (Guinness PRO12, Aviva Premiership and Top 14)?
Rassie Erasmus admits that some of his old friends at the Cheetahs would dearly love to produce an almighty upset by scalping his Munster side in Thomond Park.
New Connacht coach Kieran Keane endured testing conditions in Galway last weekend but the skies and opposition are set more fair this time around.
It was an unforgettable evening for Devin Toner who led his side to victory in his 200th game, but a forgettable game for long stretches until a late scoring burst sealed the most unlikely of bonus points.
If Wes Hoolahan finds it difficult enough to get into the Irish national team, Robbie Savage doesn't think he would get the near the Welsh XI.
Martin O'Neill was last out of the Irish dressing-room on Tuesday night. Defeats still wound him deeply despite all his decades in the game or, more...
So now we have a better idea of how a captive Cheetah acts.
Not a bad feat to outpace a pack of Cheetahs, particularly when these becalmed beasts are mostly running to standstill. Once Ulster got a gallop going, there was no stopping them, an avalanche of 19 first-half points while their opponent were a man down effectively sealing the result.
Neil Lennon tells a story about Martin O'Neill that unfurls the very nature of the Derry man's intuitive acumen which, despite him reaching his 65th birthday last March, seems intent on producing, perhaps, one final managerial heist.
Ronan O’Gara has revealed there has been no contact with Munster about becoming their new head coach, admitting he would not be the solution they are looking for.
Michael Bradley is taking the coaching path less travelled but, for one day at least, he is back on familiar turf.
The long road to the PRO14 final in Dublin next summer begins this weekend and the winners will clock up more mileage than ever before.
A simple mantra but not even Dublin could have conceived that its execution would have been engineered with such ease.
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford admitted this was his side's most satisfying victory of his short reign but warned they will need to improve before they can contemplate laying a finger upon their Holy Grail.
While there has been a broad welcome to the addition of two South African franchises to the expanded Guinness PRO14 championship, Leinster coach Leo Cullen has admitted his side's preparations for back-to-back games in the southern hemisphere next month will be seriously compromised.
Despite trailing way behind their English and French counterparts in terms of TV revenue, Guinness PRO14 chiefs have their eyes set on closing the financial gap thanks to this season's addition of two South African franchises.
For those patient enough to wallow in the vivid spectrum of one of our national game's greatest teams, the rewards were plenty - for those with Sky Blue-tinted glasses anyway.
Michael Ryan slips busily into his chair as if he has been chased into the media room by the trailing echoes of silence from the dressing-room.
Perhaps it is because they say presidents serve their country that folks also routinely refer to those who play sports in the same way. And so, as Emma Byrne retires, it seems to make all types of sense to say she "served" her country.
The (belated) official confirmation of rugby union's professionalism in 1995 struck as a thunderous earthquake throughout its narrow constituency. The plates beneath have rarely stopped shifting since.
Celtic rugby chiefs will publish an initial 13-week fixture list for an expanded PRO14 championship in the coming days and, after confirming the expected addition of two new South African sides yesterday, they may have their eyes on further expansion.
Golf's lush, meticulously-manicured pastures must feel for all the world like a heaving, unnavigable and lonely jungle to Rory McIlroy right now.
Few in Semple's temple had seen the likes before. Michael Fennelly scampers down the steps towards his manager and perhaps unveils himself as an impromptu hurling consigliere; a brief consultation and, right enough, Brian Cody reintroduces Richie Hogan.
Monaghan's Division 1 class eased them past the limited challenge laid down by their old taskmaster Seamus McEnaney, whose fitful sleeping since this draw was made proved fully justified.
Monaghan’s Division One class eased them past the predictably limited challenge laid down by their old taskmaster Seamus McEnaney, whose fitful sleeping since this draw was fully justified.
Waterford should thump Offaly this afternoon but like the lone fallen tree in the hidden forest will anyone hear or see it, let alone pay attention?
Even before the draws for this summer's major European club competitions were made, Cork City manager John Caulfield tempered the Irish sporting public's understandable anticipation that anyone, either his own runaway league leaders, or last season's fairytale success story, Dundalk, could hope to stage a repeat.
So much of the focus has been on what Dublin boss Jim Gavin said on Sunday - and the multitude of interpretations of his calmly raging outburst - but has anyone paused to consider the reaction had he decided to stay silent?
Dublin boss Jim Gavin launched an impassioned attack on a variety of media outlets and accused them of attacking suspended forward Diarmuid Connolly's "good name" in the aftermath of the controversial win over Carlow earlier this month.
And so to the next stage of the Dublin decline. Or else the inevitable next step in the irreversible decline of what we are constantly reminded was once a glorious Leinster Football Championship.
When the Lions last toured New Zealand, something coach Mike Ford said resonated strongly at the time, but was submerged by the chaos of 'Speargate' and the equally grotesque spin operation that followed it.
Just 18 Irish players have World Cup medals. Brian Kerr's squad from the 1997 World Youth Championships in Malaysia that won bronze. Find out where they are now?
"Don't book your holidays yet, we aim to be there on the last day." - Official FAI squad invitation to 18-man squad written by manager Brian Kerr and assistant, the late Noel O'Reilly.
Despite his rampant Cork City side continuing their ruthless deposition of SSE Airtricity League champions Dundalk, manager John Caulfield has dampened expectations that any side can hit the Euro millions jackpot this summer.
Ronan O'Gara is worried that the Lions have no players with the "X-factor" to hurt the All Blacks as head coach Warren Gatland was forced to delay naming his side to face the Maoris in Rotorua this weekend.
Rarely has Irish soccer's intense invocation of self-sacrifice reached such a zenith.
There are no pictures on the scorecard. Probably just as well. This was the ugly side of the international game, one to which Irish teams seem to be so consummately wedded.
To Damien Duff, the solution to the dilemma is so obvious it shouldn't even be called a dilemma.
Harry (verb). Def: To consistently attack an enemy or enemy territory.
Even dust when accumulated eventually makes a mountain. So the Japanese say anyway.
Back to basics, then.
Joe Schmidt's oft-stated disinclination to read the newspapers or listen to rugby comment may have been an advisable reaction if the recent furore surrounding Donnacha Ryan's transfer from Munster to Racing 92 is anything to go by.
The sun beams down on a steaming summer day in 2009 and John Hayes hears his phone ringing.
Johnny Sexton has brushed off his recent Head Injury Assessment to earn the out-half spot in the opening Lions selection of the tour to New Zealand alongside fellow Irishmen Rory Best and Iain Henderson.
Joe Schmidt has hailed the potential impact of Leinster back-row Rhys Ruddock after appointing him captain for the forthcoming Irish tour of the USA and Japan.
The only certainty on a Lions tour is uncertainty.
The motivation to be the very best has resided within Jamie Heaslip from the very beginning; second nature.
MUNSTER coach Rassie Erasmus vowed that his chastened side would rebound from their Scarlets shellacking as the southern province ended an emotional season on a bum note at the Aviva Stadium.
Of all the many Munster miracles down the years, perhaps the most spectacular of them all was their peculiar gift of bi-location.
Strange how some folk in the head department come into sport and incessantly drill their incessant message of impending doom.
Shane Horgan has brushed aside any suggestions that the ongoing Leinster coaching contract impasse contributed to their Guinness PRO12 semi-final flop, instead concentrating on the lack of clarity from the coaches during the game itself.
Scarlets have received an unexpected boost ahead of their Guinness PRO12 Aviva showdown with Munster this Saturday after winger Steff Evans had his tip-tackle red card rescinded by disciplinary chiefs.
Even the steadiest of minds can occasionally falter.
When Scotland stunned Grand Slam champions Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in 2010, their victory was constructed with a sting from their Killer Bs in the back-row - John Beattie, Kelly Brown and John Barclay.
Few people better know the tight bond that exists between the Munster squad and their supporters than out-half Tyler Bleyendaal.
Connacht lock Quinn Roux has been added to Joe Schmidt's travelling party for Ireland's three-match summer tour to the USA and Japan.
Age may have not changed Donncha O'Callaghan as much as the changing times have.
Leinster aim to become the first half of a potential All-Ireland Guinness PRO12 final when they host Scarlets at the RDS this evening.
LEO Cullen dropped the tallest man in Irish rugby for Leinster's semi-final clash with Scarlets at the RDS tomorrow and some may feel he offered the tallest story to explain his call.
All this week in UCD they scurry over and back the short trek to the RDS for summer exams; from Pliny to Pythagoras, Politics to Philosophy, testing times will unveil ruthless results.
All choices demand a rejection. The admission price for progress.
Sometimes an understudy has to make an opening to make an opening night.
Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip remain unavailable for Leinster's Guinness PRO 12 championship semi-final against the Scarlets at the RDS this Friday evening but Sean O'Brien may return to action should a return to training be completed successfully.
Jonathan Sexton said a lot of interesting things last week at Newstalk's Off The Ball event but the most enlightening referred to last season's "failure" of a season with Leinster.
Sometimes the faintest voices can roar the loudest. Mark McCall is comfortable embracing silence because he has experienced the havoc that too much noise can make.
Conor Murray was last night hailed by his fellow Irish professionals for a stellar season in Irish green and Munster red by being named the Zurich Players' Player of the Year.
Connacht have failed in their improbable 11th hour attempt to spring Bundee Aki from the last leg of a three-match suspension for misconduct after their appeal was dismissed at a Glasgow hearing last night.
Ireland will hope to avoid France and South Africa in today's draw for the 2019 World Cup in Japan - as the fight for the 2023 staging of the competition between all three countries intensifies.
Munster didn't want this weekend off but, as with anything in life, they must deal with the reality as best they can while the rest of Europe waits to hail its club champions on Saturday.
Should Isa Nacewa decide to pursue a future career outside rugby, recruitment might well suit him.
Last August, few suspected that the Scarlets would finish the regular league campaign as the best side in Wales, let alone reach the semi-finals of the Guinness PRO12.
No point in getting a break if you don't make one yourself.
Leinster are still hopeful that Ireland No 8 Jamie Heaslip can yet recover from back surgery to make a prospective Guinness PRO12 final at the Aviva Stadium at the end of this month - providing Leinster can win their home semi-final against either Scarlets or Ospreys.
Leinster will wait until later in the week to decide whether they risk a number of their walking wounded for what is effectively a dead rubber in their final Guinness PRO 12 outing away to Ulster this weekend.
Winter stalks the west coast as Connacht coach Pat Lam makes the half-hour journey to Kinvara.
After the new breed revived the province's European prestige, now an even younger stock will seek to add substantially more evidence that such grand rehabilitation can be sustainable.
Connacht are, technically at least, still the reigning Guinness PRO12 champions until, as now looks increasingly more than likely than now, one of their Irish rivals acquires the title in Dublin next month.
Not even floodlight failure could stop them.
If it can be said that Munster housed a bull when they conquered Europe, well then Leinster accommodated the most fearsome of front-row bears.
After the Lions unveiled their squad selection last Wednesday, prompting a different squad to be selected by every occupant of a bar stool within the British Isles, the head-scratching from without was as feverish as within.
Those of us have followed Munster's season closely feel as if it has encapsulated much more than merely eight months and 28 matches.
Donncha O'Callaghan may continue playing professional rugby into his fifth decade after agreeing an undisclosed contract to extend his current stay at English Premiership side Worcester Warriors.
Sporting dynasties can only be wrought through struggle; this much the men of Saracens know because they have been there.
Honesty of effort and endeavour presaged Munster's Champions Cup semi-final defeat in Dublin.
Munster may have had the final, defiant word but ultimately Saracens authored the script as their attempt to defend their Champions Cup crown surpassed its penultimate, and toughest hurdle.
MUNSTER may have had the final, defiant word but ultimately Saracens authored the script as their attempt to defend their Champions Cup crown surpassed its penultimate, and toughest hurdle.
Great deeds and genuine expression can make a man stand out from the crowd. Most of us, sadly, try to think and act the same way just because everyone else thinks and acts the same way.
Saracens arrive to the Aviva as champions seeking to achieve what their hosts once achieved: European immortality. Good teams win European titles once; great teams win more than once. "We don't think that way," says Sarries boss Mark McCall. "We just aim for consistency."
Munster return to the Aviva Stadium for the first time in six months to play in the semi-finals of a Champions Cup but will do so without the man who perhaps believed more than anyone that they could get this far.
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus confirmed that there is still no exact indication of when Conor Murray may possibly return from the shoulder injury sustained almost two months ago in Cardiff and said that Ian Keatley will cover both half-back positions from the bench.
'They seem to find structure in chaos' - Rassie Erasmus
There are two minutes left in Ireland's season and nobody knows which way the ball will bounce.
Record-breaking Dublin football manager Jim Gavin has wished Leinster well ahead of their daunting Champions Cup test against Clermont in Lyon this weekend after stopping by to speak to their coaching staff.
Keith Earls spent too much of his short life searching for answers not knowing that his short life would eventually find them for him.
If a team's character can be viewed through the prism of their head coach, then it was easy to see why the Munster players could only view blue sky, ignoring the clouds, as they took to their UL training paddock yesterday afternoon.
Against a shadow Leinster, it was apt that the sight of Connacht chasing shadows defined this encounter.
Few clues, perhaps, amidst this particular egg hunt, for those grasping for any sense of how next week's Champions Cup test in France may pan out.
A shadow Leinster side emerged from a thrilling see-saw contest with the bonus-point win that regains them their hold on top spot in the Guinness Pro12 on a day when an all-Irish final in the Aviva at the end of May moved a step closer.
A shadow Leinster side emerged from a thrilling see-saw contest with the bonus-point win that regains them their stranglehold on top spot in the Guinness PRO 12 on a day when an all-Irish final in the Aviva at the end of May moved a step closer.
Even now, almost a year on, there remains a vivid sense that Connacht's sweeping success in Edinburgh last May trapped in amber the lives of all who wallowed in that beautiful day.
Getting team selection right is all about balance.
Connacht centre Bundee Aki has vowed that even though Pat Lam won't be around next season, the reigning Guinness PRO12 champions can rubberstamp his legacy by retaining their place in the top flight of European rugby.
Ulster face a resurrection derby against Munster this season but after last week's criminal home draw against Cardiff, the faith of even their most devout supporters is being severely tested.
Carl Frampton has ruled out a world title rematch against Leo Santa Cruz at Windsor Park this summer, but he insists it will happen sometime.
Surely there has to come a time when the hackneyed unsung hero needs an accompaniment of lyrics.
After such striking conviction off the field, slightly less on it in Tallaght.